I grew up watching lots of football shows on ESPN, but my favorite had to have been Numbers Never Lie, with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. I’d come home from school, hop on the couch, and just soak up the statistics for a half hour. In hindsight, that was a really good indicator of the fact that I would one day work in big data. As I learn more and more about data, however, one thing becomes ever clearer: numbers can, and do, lie.
The Lions were knocked down by the now 7-8 Atlanta Falcons last week in a close contest. The Lions were 9 yards away from likely victory, until the reality that they were starting a bad backup quarterback set in, and Tim Boyle quite literally threw the game away. This week, the Lions go head-to-head with the 5-10 Seattle Seahawks. Easier matchup, right? Wrong. Seattle should prove to be a much more stout opponent than the Falcons, in spite of their worse record.
Bold prediction of the week: Tim Boyle is a bust against Seahawks defense, Lions offense scores less than 13 points.
Y’all know I like to stay positive in my bold predictions but this week is a recipe for disaster. Let’s start with the aforementioned topic of records being deceiving. I’ve seen the Falcons described (quite aptly) as “the best bad team in the league” in recent weeks. In the weeks where they win, it’s usually by a hair and against bad teams, while their losses turn real ugly against any team that has any semblance of life to them.
The stat to expose all this? Point differential. The Falcons have a total point differential of -122 points. That means that when you add up all the points scored for and against them this season, they’ve been outscored by 122 points, or an average of 8.1 points per game. To make it more realistic, let’s assume the Falcons achieved all seven of their wins by a margin of just one point. That means that across their eight losses, they would’ve lost by an average of 15.3 points. That’s a bad team. How bad, you ask? That’s good for 28th in the league, just ahead of the (you guessed it!) Detroit Lions at -127 points.
Where do the Seahawks come into all of this? Well, they sit at a -1 point differential on the season, which likely means they’ve fallen victim to being on the losing end of many close games. A quick look at their schedule confirms this, with losses to the Bears, Steelers, Saints, Titans, and WFT coming by a grand total of 12 points. The Seahawks are a competitive team stuck in arguably the best division in all of football, and that’s led to a deceptively bad record entering Sunday’s matchup against the Lions.
Enter the Lions, led by career fraudulent Timothy Boyle.
with tim boyle starting for the lions today, here’s a reminder he has more interceptions than touchdowns at three different levels of football:— Tej Seth (@tejfbanalytics) December 26, 2021
•FBS: 1 TD, 13 INT’s
•FCS: 11 TD’s, 13 INT’s
•NFL: 0 TD’s, 2 INT’s
Boyle, who failed to pull ahead of one of the worse teams in the league last week, now faces a more difficult Seattle Seahawks team with an even weaker Lions roster. Although he’ll be getting back starting quarterback Jared Goff’s favorite weapon in D’Andre Swift, Boyle will have to work with rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown as WR1 and former preseason fan favorite turned WR2 Tom Kennedy. WR3 will be Trinity Benson or KhaDarel Hodge or practice squadder Javon McKinley. If it’s Benson, also known as the first blemish on Brad Holmes’ resume, it’ll be a receiver entering Sunday’s matchup with eight receptions for 72 yards and just one start on the season after the Lions traded a day three pick for the rookie wideout.
At tight end, things become even more bleak. The Lions are slated to have two tight ends activated for Sunday’s game, Jared Pinkney and Ross Travis, both of whom are contending for the title of longest-tenured healthy tight end with each having just five days under their belts with the Lions.
A variety of other miscellaneous injuries have the Lions hamstrung all across the roster, but it’s especially bad in the supporting cast surrounding the Lions’ especially bad starting quarterback. What happens Sunday is to be determined, but I guarantee it won’t be pretty.